There’s a tremendous upside to allocating a portion of your marketing budget to hire celebrity brand ambassadors. Partnering with the right celebrity has the potential to level up your brand and roll out the red carpet of exposure and awareness.
Nike + Michael Jordan, Adidas + David Beckham, Dior + Charlize Theron, Priceline + William Shatner and—in the present moment—anything Steph Curry or (dare we say it) Kim Kardashian.
Smart brands spend months, if not years, selecting the most fitting celebrity partners; calculating sponsorship risks vs. benefits; negotiating contracts and ensuring their PR department is capable of handling any crazy happenings that might occur during the contract period.
But, it’s important to remember that no brand is completely immune to the downside of sponsorship deals. No brand is immune to the unforeseen, the unexpected or the controversial. No brand is immune to attacks resulting from partner behavior, including the type of advertising strategy Sprint deployed against its famous wireless competitor. (WATCH)
Verizon surely heard that one. And its sales will likely feel it.
At the end of the day, however larger-than-life a celebrity may seem, they’re still human. Humans make mistakes, bad choices, and sometimes get caught up on the wrong side of a story.
As an example, Subway felt its sales rapidly decline when word of Jared Fogle’s disturbing sexual behavior began circulating national media. Fogle was one of Subway’s most lucrative spokesmen, reportedly contributing nearly half of Subway’s growth over the last 15 years. He became the face of the brand after losing over 200 pounds on a Subway diet. Who could have guessed he’d end up severely damaging the brand?
And who could have guessed that Lance Armstrong, the God of cycling and golden boy of the fight against cancer, would be found (embarrassingly) guilty of doping? Several years prior to any final proof of this guilt, rumors were circulating that Armstrong was ‘on something’ to help him win. Nike responded to these rumors in the truest of Nike spirit, the best way they knew how given the information they had available at the time. (WATCH)
That’s why, in 2012, Nike had no choice but to distance itself from Armstrong, after a decade of sponsorship. It was a PR nightmare for the brand, caused by the actions and choices of one individual. One sponsorship.
But, one sponsorship can also turn a company around, increase sales and provide a national platform for awareness. Imagine the power the Bey-hive might have on your fashion brand? Or the sales Misty Copeland could generate for a new ballet shoe? Or the exposure you’d receive when a celebrity chef promotes your supermarket?
When it comes to sponsorships there are huge upsides and equally powerful downsides. It’s important that your team looks at it from both sides and thinks through the decision to adopt a celebrity sponsorship strategy. We can help. Here are 5 tips to keep you headed in the right direction if you’re considering employing a celebrity brand ambassador.
START SMALL – Before coughing up hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single brand ambassador, start on a smaller scale. Identify more localized and lesser-known ‘celebrities’ that might help produce a great deal of exposure and word-of-mouth business.
ALIGN – A few weeks back we spoke about the importance of identifying your brand values. (Have you done that yet? Get going!) Your brand values should be used to identify the celebrity or talent that most aligns with them.
NEGOTIATE DIFFERENTLY – Some actors, athletes and talent will work for company shares, in-kind trade and a percentage of the sales. It doesn’t always have to be money straight from the marketing budget. Ask if they’re interested in working another way.
MAINTAIN IDENTITY – Even if the celebrity you’ve hired is the perfect face for the brand, never make it the sole face of it. Maintain a positioning and brand-campaign to complement any creative you run with the celebrity.
REMEMBER THAT THIS IS THEIR JOB – When hiring a celebrity to promote your brand, remember it’s their job to do exactly that. Stick to the contract and hold them to no different standards than you would another company employee.
Let us help you identify opportunities and celebrity endorsers for your brand. We’ll cover it all and set you up for success.